Aid convoy at Al-Qantara town east of Egypt's governorate of Ismailia on its way to Gaza, 24 July, 2014 (Photo: Courtesy of Popular Committee to support the Palestinian Intifada)
An Egyptian aid convoy bound for Gaza has reached the Rafah border crossing, with plans to deliver medicine to the besieged Palestinian enclave, members of the convoy told Ahram Online.
Member of the convoy and former presidential candidate Khaled Ali tweeted on Friday that the convoy had reached the crossing and was waiting for members of the Palestinian Red Crescent to receive the aid, expected after noon prayers, he said.
Activists are set to deliver LE2.3 million worth of medical aid to Gaza from donations.
One of the volunteers, Zizo Abdu, told Ahram Online on Thursday that only two people were allowed to stay with the loaded vehicles, while the other ten were sent back.
On Thursday, the convoy passed the Qantara crossing in the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya, as well as the Balooza checkpoint in northern Sinai and entered the border town of Al-Arish, said Tamer Qenawi, one of the two activists allowed to accompany the convoy.
He said an armoured police vehicle escorted them to Al-Arish's security headquarters, where the convoy spent the night before they headed to the Rafah border crossing on Friday morning.
"We thank God that after a lot of complications and problems, things were sorted out in the past couple of hours," Qenawi told Ahram Online.
He said the 12 people in the convoy had obtained permission from the Egyptian ministries of foreign affairs and health, as well as the general intelligence.
But permission from military intelligence was also needed for them to complete the trip – which the authorities had not mentioned before they set off from Cairo on Thursday morning, he said.
Only Qenawi – the representative pharmacist from the Popular Campaign to Support the Palestinian Uprising – and the deputy head of the Doctors Syndicate were allowed to stay with the convoy overnight.
"The priority is to deliver the medication and donations with which Egyptians have entrusted us to the people of Gaza," Qenawi said.
Over 800 Palestinians have been killed and 4,000 injured since Israel launched an offensive against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on 8 July.
A ground offensive that started a week ago increased losses on the Palestinian side, killing and wounding hundreds of children and women in raids that have also targeted hospitals and schools.
Israel has so far lost 32 soldiers and three civilians.
A similar Egyptian convoy of 11 buses and 550 activists was stopped at a military checkpoint en route to Gaza on Saturday and was sent back. The military had security concerns for the safety of the convoy.
Egyptian authorities sent 500 tonnes of food and medical supplies as humanitarian aid to Gaza soon after the Israeli offensive started.
The government also opened the Rafah border crossing, the only non-Israeli passage to Gaza, for wounded Palestinians to be treated in Egyptian hospitals.